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How to grow Delphinium flowers in the city

Plant ABC

Words by Kelsey Lee Jones

Illustrations by Camilla Perkins

The Delphinium - named after its dolphin-like shape - has been known for adding bushy brilliance, colour and architectural height to garden borders. So how do you get these beautiful flowers to bloom in the city? Here are our best tips.

Latin name: The name comes from the Greek word Delphin (dolphin)

Nickname: Sometimes known as a Larkspur (after the claws of a lark). It has also earned the name ‘Queen of the Border’

Family: Ranunculaceae (buttercups)

Native to: Northern hemisphere and Africa’s mountainous tropics

Life cycle: Perennial

Soil: Rich, moist, well-drained loamy soil

Special feature: Its ‘dolphin’ shape and its ability to attract butterflies

Opt for the dwarf variety

The delphinium doesn’t need to limited to being a traditional ‘border flower’. Potting the flower has increased in popularity, which works with modern city living, small spaces and balconies. Look out for the mini or dwarf delphinium varieties, these grow best in large pots and containers.

For perfect potting

Use a large pot (8 litre is ideal) and follow the standard methods for potting any plant: this means allowing for good drainage and leaving a 2 or 3cm gap between the soil surface and the top of the pot. It might also be useful to plant three sticks to make a triangle that supports the plant. Take care not to damage the root ball and sprinkle a few slug pellets.

Plant in spring for magnificent summer flowers

When delphinium plants are potted in spring, they will flower beautifully in the early summer, after which there will be time left to cut away the old stem to allow a second bloom. When it becomes too cold on your balcony, you can remove the plant from the outer pot and place in a bag in a cool but light area, your plant should lie fairly dormant until spring comes around again

Handle with care

Don’t forget, this unassuming plant can be deadly! All parts of the delphinium plant are highly poisonous to both humans and animals, with the greatest concentration of its toxin found in vigorous growth shoots. Ingestion can lead to severe illness, paralysis and even death (woah!). Make sure to keep them away from your children and pets.

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